Best Instant Tents – 6 of the Best Instant Tents in 2020

Gear Tents

If you’re looking for the best instant tents, look no further!

Rather than focus on the best instant camping tents, today we’re looking at the best instant tents that can be used for other things – like a beach shelter, or a canopy tent for your garden.

There are some great, versatile instant tents out there – but which is the best?

The bottom line up front: We like the Coleman Instant Canopy Tent the best, as it’s really versatile.

We also like:

We’ll be looking at them all in more detail, so you can see if they’re right for your situation.

We’ll also be looking at:

  • What an instant tent actually is
  • What to look for when you’re buying an instant tent
  • 6 of the best instant tents, including their key features, specs and pros and cons.
  • Information about tent weights and sandbags
  • Frequently asked questions

Keep reading to find out!

Table of Contents

  1. Best Instant Tents Compared
  2. What is an Instant Tent?
  3. What to Look for in an Instant Tent
    1. Function/Versatility
    2. Capacity
    3. Ease of Setup
    4. Materials and Weatherproofing
    5. Portability
  4. Best Instant Tents – Our Top 6
    1. ZOMAKE Pop-Up Tent
    2. Alvanator Screen House Canopy
    3. Coleman Instant Canopy
    4. Quik Shade Expedition Instant Canopy
    5. SGODDE Pop-Up Privacy Shower Tent
    6. AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Tent
  5. About Tent Weights and Sandbags
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
    1. How fast should instant tents be to put together?
    2. How can I take care of my instant tent?
    3. Can I take an instant tent on a plane?
    4. How can I stay safe on a beach?
  7. Our Final Thoughts – Which Instant Tent is Best?

Best Instant Tents Compared

Feature
Best Pop-Up Shelter
Best for Patios
Best for Larger Groups
Most Versatile
Best Tent for Privacy
Best for the Beach
Model
ZOMAKE Pop-Up Tent
Alvanator Screen House Canopy
Coleman Instant Canopy Tent
Quik Shade Expedition Instant Canopy
SGODDE Pop-Up Privacy Tent
AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Tent
ZOMAKE Pop Up Tent 3 4 Person, Beach Tent Sun Shelter for Baby with UV Protection - Automatic and Instant Setup Tent for Family (Green)
Alvantor Screen House Room Camping Tent Outdoor Canopy Dining Gazebo Pop Up Sun Shade Hexagon Shelter Mesh Walls Not Waterproof 10'x10' Beige Patent
Coleman Instant Canopy
Quik Shade Expedition 10 x 10-Foot Instant Canopy, Slant Leg Outdoor Tent, 64 Square Feet of Shade for 8-12 People - Navy Blue
SGODDE Pop Up Privacy Shower Tent,Instant Portable Outdoor Shower Tent Camp Toilet, Changing Room, Rain Shelter with Carry Bag for Camping Hiking Beach Toilet Shower Bathroom Pink
AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Tent - 10' x 10', Blue
$69.99
$159.99
Price not available
$83.99
$50.99
$99.17
-
Feature
Best Pop-Up Shelter
Model
ZOMAKE Pop-Up Tent
ZOMAKE Pop Up Tent 3 4 Person, Beach Tent Sun Shelter for Baby with UV Protection - Automatic and Instant Setup Tent for Family (Green)
$69.99
Feature
Best for Patios
Model
Alvanator Screen House Canopy
Alvantor Screen House Room Camping Tent Outdoor Canopy Dining Gazebo Pop Up Sun Shade Hexagon Shelter Mesh Walls Not Waterproof 10'x10' Beige Patent
$159.99
Feature
Best for Larger Groups
Model
Coleman Instant Canopy Tent
Coleman Instant Canopy
Price not available
-
Feature
Most Versatile
Model
Quik Shade Expedition Instant Canopy
Quik Shade Expedition 10 x 10-Foot Instant Canopy, Slant Leg Outdoor Tent, 64 Square Feet of Shade for 8-12 People - Navy Blue
$83.99
Feature
Best Tent for Privacy
Model
SGODDE Pop-Up Privacy Tent
SGODDE Pop Up Privacy Shower Tent,Instant Portable Outdoor Shower Tent Camp Toilet, Changing Room, Rain Shelter with Carry Bag for Camping Hiking Beach Toilet Shower Bathroom Pink
$50.99
Feature
Best for the Beach
Model
AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Tent
AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Tent - 10' x 10', Blue
$99.17

What is an Instant Tent?

An instant tent is a tent that takes just moments to put together. They tend to come in one of two types: an umbrella-like frame, which you can unfold and click into position, or a pop-up tent, which you take from the bag and throw into the air, where it assembles itself.

In this article, we’ll be focusing on instant tents that are not designed for camping. These are designed instead to be used as shelters whenever you need a bit of shade. You can read our guide to instant camping tents, if you’re looking for those instead.

What to Look for in an Instant Tent

Tent on the beach

Here’s a quick rundown on what to look for when you are buying an instant tent:

Function/Versatility

What do you plan to use the tent for? Instant tents can be used on the beach, to give you some shade. You can use instant tents to get changed on the beach, too. Instant tents can be used in the garden, to give you some shade, or as a fun tent for your kids to play in. Or you can use them on your patio. You can even take them camping alongside your regular tent, to give you a bit of extra outdoor space.

Some instant tents are multi-purpose in this regard – a basic shelter with overhead shade can be used for all of the above (except for changing – not all instant tents have walls!). So, you can get more value for your money if you think about all the scenarios you could use the tent for.

Capacity

How many people do you want to fit into your tent? Some tents will tell you a capacity (for example, they might say that 8-10 people can fit under it). 

Some tents may not advertise how many people can fit under it, so it can be tricky to work out what size you need. With canopy tents, the larger the width and length, the more shade it will provide.

You can also consider the center height – if you’re particularly tall or you want a spacious-feeling tent, go for a tent with a center height of 7ft (84in / 213cm) or higher. Some have adjustable center heights, too.

Ease of Setup

It goes without saying that instant tents should be quick to put together. They should be pretty straightforward to assemble. It’s also worth checking how easy it is to fold it back down again, which can sometimes take a bit of practice.

Materials and Weatherproofing

Tent fabric used to cover the tent

Instant tents tend to be made from coated polyester (usually coated in UV-protective substances). This helps to keep the rain at bay overhead, as well as protecting you from the sun.

Tents (particularly camping tents) are sometimes categorised under different ‘seasons’. Here’s a quick rundown of what they mean:

  • 1-season – this doesn’t offer much in terms of rain protection, but they do tend to be cheap. Some pop-up shelters fall into the ‘1-season’ category.
  • 2-seasons – these do offer a little more rain protection, but aren’t designed to withstand prolonged rain. Some pop-up shelters and canopy tents fall into the ‘2-season’ category.
  • 3-seasons – more often found in camping tents, 3-season tents offer good ventilation for hot weather as well as rainproofing. 
  • 4 and 5-seasons – these are built for more extreme weather and tend to be a bit more difficult to find.

If you want to know more about seasons, we cover this in a little more detail in our guide to 3 season vs 4 season tents.

In terms of sun protection, it’s important to know you’re protected. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, and it measures how effective a certain type of fabric is at blocking out harmful rays from the sun. A UPF of 50 blocks around 98% of the sun’s rays.

If you want to know more about keeping yourself safe in the sun while camping, you can check out Outwell’s guide to sun protection.

Portability

Portability is another key thing to think about, especially if you’re going on a flight – it’s worth checking the weight and size packed to make sure you can easily take it with you.

Some instant tents have wheeled carry bags, so even if they’re on the heavier side, you can still transport them without having to lift them.

Top 6 Best Instant Tents

Now, let’s take a look at some of the best instant tents. We’ve tried to cover a range of categories (including beach shelters, canopy tents, privacy tents and patio tents), so hopefully you can find one that suits your needs!

ZOMAKE Pop-Up Tent – Best Pop-Up Shelter

ZOMAKE Pop Up Tent 3 4 Person, Beach Tent Sun Shelter for Baby with UV Protection - Automatic and Instant Setup Tent for Family (Green)

Key Features

  • Capacity: 4-6
  • Size:
    7ft 9in x 5ft 9in x 3ft 2in (ft)
    95 x 71 x 39 (in)
    241 x 180 x 99(cm)
  • Size packed (diameter):
    22.8in
    58cm
  • Carry bag included: Yes
  • Weight: 5lbs / 2.26kg
  • Materials: Coated polyester with anti-UV coating
  • Seasons: 2

The ZOMAKE Pop-Up Tent is a pop-up beach shelter. It can be used to keep harmful UV rays at bay on a beach trip, but also makes a nice tent for kids to play in. It’s a bit tight for 4 adults, but would fit 3 adults, or 2 adults and 2 children. 

It’s a truly ‘instant’ tent – just take it from the bag, unstrap it, and throw it up in the air, and it assembles itself. There are several videos on YouTube detailing how to put it back in the bag again properly, which we’d recommend watching.

As it’s designed to be a beach shelter, it’s not going to keep the rain at bay for too long. It has good ventilation, with 2 mesh doors, 2 mesh windows, and a sky window for you to look out. It has anti-UV coating, so it is ideal for hot weather.

Pros

  • Ideal for beach trips or use in the garden
  • Fun to put together
  • Good UV protection

Cons

  • Won’t keep the rain out
Buy on Amazon

Alvanator Screen House Canopy – Best for Patios

Alvantor Screen House Room Camping Tent Outdoor Canopy Dining Gazebo Pop Up Sun Shade Hexagon Shelter Mesh Walls Not Waterproof 10'x10' Beige Patent

Key Features

  • Capacity: 8-12
  • Size:
    10 x 10 x 7 (ft)
    120 x 120 x 84 (in)
    305 x 305 x 213 (cm)
  • Size Packed:
    39 x 2 (in)
    99 x 5 (cm)
  • Carry bag included: Yes
  • Weight: 15lbs / 6.80kg
  • Materials: UPF coated polyester and mesh

The Alvanator Screen House Canopy is great for sitting on your patio – it will provide you with shade, but allow you to look out, due to the mesh walls that go from the ceiling to the floor. (If you want more information about keeping insects at bay, Lansing State Journal’s guide to keeping insects away from your patio space could help).

It takes just moments to put together – it literally pops up, so it takes less than a minute to do. It’s also simple to put back into the bag, but it does require a bit of strength to fold it properly.

The ventilation is great, thanks to the fully mesh walls, so you won’t feel overheated on hot days. The UV protection on top is great too, and it provides a lot of shade. It comes with sandbags and stakes (or pegs, which you drive into the ground to anchor the tent).

Pros

  • Pops up instantly
  • Spacious
  • Keeps insects at bay
  • UV protection will protect you on hot days

Cons

  • Requires a lot of strength to put back in the bag
Buy on Amazon

Coleman Instant Canopy Tent – Best for Larger Groups

Coleman Instant Canopy

Key Features

  • Capacity: 8-12
  • Size:
    10 x 10 x 9ft 4in (ft)
    120 x 120 x 113 (in)
    305 x 305 x 338 (cm)
  • Size Packed:
    8 x 8 x 48 (in)
    20 x 20 x 124 (cm)
  • Carry bag included: Yes
  • Weight: 35.5lbs / 16.10kgs
  • Materials: Double-thick polyester with UPF 50+ sun protection

The Coleman Instant Canopy Tent has a tall center height of 9ft 4in (113cm / 338cm) – ideal if you’re tall (our guide to the best tall 4-person tents might be useful to you if you’re looking for a regular tent). It makes a great beach shelter or could provide great cover if you need it for your backyard on a hot day. 

All you have to do to assemble it is to lay it down on one side, extend the legs, and that’s it. It’s designed to avoid your fingers getting trapped, and it folds up easily too, into a wheeled carry bag for easy transportation.

Weather-protection wise, it will keep out a little bit of rain, but because it doesn’t have walls, you won’t stay dry on a windy and rainy day. It’s not the most durable tent, which is something to bear in mind. To keep this tent weighed down (on the beach, for example), you’ll have to use weights or sandbags. We’ll talk about this a bit later on in the article, but for quick reference, the ABCCANOPY Pop-Up Canopy Tent Sand Bag Anchor Kit would work really well here.

Pros

  • Really simple to put together
  • Lots of headroom
  • Good UPF protection for hot days
  • Comes with a wheeled carry bag for easier transportation

Cons

  • Heavy to carry
  • Not that durable
Buy on Amazon

Quik Shade Expedition Instant Canopy – Most Versatile

Quik Shade Expedition 10 x 10-Foot Instant Canopy, Slant Leg Outdoor Tent, 64 Square Feet of Shade for 8-12 People - Navy Blue

Key Features

  • Capacity: 8-12
  • Size:
    10 x 10 x 9 (ft)
    120 x 120 x 108 (in)
    305 x 305 x 274 (cm)
  • Size Packed:
    16 x 50 x 8 (in)
    41 x 127 x 20 (cm)
  • Carry bag included: Yes
  • Weight: 28lbs / 12.70kg
  • Materials: Polyester

The Quik Shade Expedition Instant Canopy can be used successfully on different surfaces – on gravel, on the beach, and on grass – and it has an adjustable center height, making it a versatile choice. 

It takes less than 10 minutes to set up and is designed with an easy-latch system to adjust the center height. It packs down into a compact carry bag.

It’s good for the beach or hot days, as it has good UV protection. It will keep a rain shower at bay (unless it blows into the sides), but heavy rain will cause leaks. It’s a durable tent, with a powder-coated frame for improved corrosion resistance. On a windy day, you’ll have to use weights or sandbags to keep it still. If you wanted to try weights, the US Tailgater Canopy Weights will work well.

Pros

  • Works well on different surfaces
  • Easy to put together
  • Good for hot weather
  • Adjustable center height

Cons

  • Won’t keep out heavy rain
Buy on Amazon

SGODDE Pop-Up Privacy Shower Tent – Best Tent for Privacy

SGODDE Pop Up Privacy Shower Tent,Instant Portable Outdoor Shower Tent Camp Toilet, Changing Room, Rain Shelter with Carry Bag for Camping Hiking Beach Toilet Shower Bathroom Pink

Key Features

  • Capacity: 1
  • Size:
    3ft 9in x 3ft 9in x 8 (ft)
    47 x 47 x 75 (in)
    119 x 119 x 190 (cm)
  • Size Packed:
    23 x 23 x 1.4 (in)
    58 x 58 x 3.5 (cm)
  • Carry bag included: Yes
  • Weight: 5.5lbs / 88oz
  • Materials: Polyester

The SGODDE Pop-Up Privacy Tent is a small, lightweight, easy-to-carry tent which gives you privacy when you need it. It works really well on the beach as a changing tent. It also has handy storage pockets, perfect for keeping clothes, towels, and water bottles. The only issue with this tent is that it’s not that versatile – it’s designed for just one person to stand in, meaning you can’t really use it as a comfortable family beach shelter, for example.

It’s very simple to put together – just open the bag and shake it out, and it pops up by itself. It takes seconds and it’s really easy to fold back up too. 

The tent actually got pretty decent weather protection. It’s not designed to keep heavy rain out, but it does have good ventilation with top mesh vents, and it comes with 4 ropes and 4 ground stakes to anchor it to the ground. 

Pros

  • Pops up in seconds
  • Folds up easily
  • Includes storage pockets

Cons

  • Not that versatile
  • Only fits one person
Buy on Amazon

AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Tent – Best for the Beach

AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Tent - 10' x 10', Blue

Key Features

  • Capacity: 8-10
  • Size:
    9ft 8in x 9ft 8in x 8 (ft)
    118 x 118 x 97 (in)
    300 x 300 x 247 (cm)
  • Size Packed:
    5 (ft) / 60 (in) (length)
  • Carry bag included: Yes
  • Weight: 40.7lbs / 18.46kg
  • Materials: Polyester

The AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Tent if you’re on a tight budget, this could be a great instant tent for you. It’s ideal for use on the beach.

It’s designed to be easy and fast to set up. However, because it’s large, it’s easier to try to do it with two people. It’s also easy to fold down again and fits neatly into the storage bag that comes with it.

The sun protection is excellent – it has 99% UV protection, with angled legs to give you more shade. If you want the maximum amount of shade for your money, this could work really well for you. It won’t keep heavy rain at bay without leaks, and it’s not designed to be used in windy weather. This could obviously be an issue on the beach, but you can use sandbags like the ABCCANOPY Pop-Up Canopy Tent Sand Bag Anchor Kit to help it to stay put.

Pros

  • Low price
  • Good sun protection
  • Easy to put together

Cons

  • No sandbags included
Buy on Amazon

About Tent Weights and Sandbags

Microfiber towel for fitness and outdoor walks.

If you’re using your tent on the beach, or in windy conditions generally, you’ll need to think about how you will keep it safely attached to the ground. 

There are two main options to secure your tent: sandbags and tent weights. Sandbags are great for beach tents as, obviously, they can be filled and emptied right there on the beach. Weights are versatile and don’t require refilling or emptying.

For sandbags, we’d recommend these: ABCCANOPY Pop-Up Canopy Tent Sand Bag Anchor Kit. For weights, we’d recommend the US Tailgater Canopy Weights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about instant tents:

How fast should instant tents be to put together?

It should be pretty much instant – a few minutes at most. (If you’re looking for a regular camping tent that is easy to set up, check out our guide to the best quick set-up tent, or our guide to the best tent to set up by yourself).

How can I take care of my instant tent?

The main thing to remember is to allow your instant tent to dry out properly between uses, if you do get caught in the rain. This prevents mold from growing. It’s also worth checking the frame from time to time to make sure the poles aren’t bending out of shape (they can sometimes be bent back into position).

Can I take an instant tent on a plane?

Yes. It’s always worth checking with your particular airline, but generally speaking, it’s fine to take a tent on a plane. Some instant tents can be heavy, so it pays to check the weight of your tent before you commit to buying it, if you plan to take it on vacation.

How can I stay safe on a beach?

It’s great to take your instant tent to the beach, as it provides safe shelter from the sun. However, there are other things you can do to keep safe – check out The United States Lifesaving Association’s guide to beach and water safety is a good resource.

Our Final Thoughts – Which is the Best Instant Tent?

Tourist tent on the beach. Tent on the seashore

We really like the Coleman Instant Canopy Tent. It’s versatile, easy to put together, and gives you a good amount of shade. It works really well on the beach or in the backyard.

We also like the Alvanator Screen House Canopy. It’s ideal if you want to enjoy an outdoor space whilst avoiding insect bites in hot weather. Or, if you’re on a budget, it’s worth checking out the AmazonBasics Pop-Up Canopy Tent.

We hope this has helped you to find the best instant tent for you!